AND the award for social constructivist, anti science nonsense of the week goes to ... Shona Craven (Sex biases in science are still fuelling inequality, April 6) for uncritically repeating the “Testosterone Rex” pablum of Professor Cordelia Fine and managing to repeat the three great social constructivist myths that have hobbled the left since the seventies.

These are that:

a) science is a patriarchal, gendered activity whose findings are not objective and are used to maintain the status quo,

b) the biological sex differences that Darwinist theory would predict and which have been found to be the case in innumerable peer-reviewed studies are not real, and that sex differences are completely or almost completely due to social conditioning,

c) it is necessary for progressives to reject this so-called “biological determinism” because it undermines the struggle for equality.

Answering a), not so. Of course, science, like any other branch of human activity, will reflect society and therefore it would be a nonsense to say that there are no sexist scientists or that no scientist ever massaged their results to reflect a conscious or unconscious bias. But this is equally true of feminist philosophers of science trying to prove it’s all a male conspiracy.

It is the method of science – of hypotheses that can be falsified by empirical observation and data, double blind testing, control, and peer review – that ensure, broadly, correct conclusions that can be built on are reached over time.

Answering b), modern neo-Darwinist theory predicts that there will be innate physical differences between males and females for all species that have evolved over time. Modern neuroscience has shown that, though important parts of the brain are plastic and develop throughout our life in response to environmental stimuli, the deep structure value systems within the human brain that are involved in this process are hormonal and structurally innate.

Consequently, the current scientific, biological consensus view of what makes people the people they are is that we are both biologically AND socially constructed. This balanced view is anathema to those within the social sciences and many on the left who have been raised on a diet of fundamentalist social constructivism.

Some sex differences that are biological rather than socially constructed are what we would expect to find – and that is largely what has been found. So, it may be the case that “on average” more men will be attracted to certain activities than women and vice versa. Of course, as both Ms Craven and Prof Fine know full well, our own great Scots philosophical genius David Hume conclusively showed that you cannot logically derive an “ought” from an “is” or an “is” from an “ought”. One cannot make any kind of a logical case from the fact that some sex differences do, in fact, exist, that there should not be full legal, social and economic equality for all thinking persons ... because that is an innate and moral good in and of itself.

And so we overlap into our rebuttal of c) difference in biology should NOT lead to the idea that one sex is superior or inferior to the other. True equality comes through the acceptance and celebration of diversity.

The left has been making the same colossal mistake now for decades – that if biology doesn’t tell us what fits with our predominately social constructivist world view, then the biology must be wrong, and be changed, or challenged on ideological rather than evidential grounds.

All humans have a range of traits which exist on a spectrum and it is right to say that many of our societal attitudes and norms ARE socially constructed. But that which is socially constructed is only ever, at best, part of the human story. That which has been given to us by a million or more years of human evolution is the irreducible other.

Steve Arnott